We all know that baseball is the national pastime. I mean, we’ve heard it a million times before.
The reason might surprise you. It’s regarded as the national pastime because that’s just how people in the early 19th century referred to it. The name just stuck around and came to be what it’s known for.
You may have assumed it was called the ‘national pastime’ because it’s a long game. That’s also partially true. An average MLB baseball game is 3 hours and 16 minutes long with plenty of inactive moments in between.
As for college baseball, the average is just a hair under 3 hours—at 2 hours and 59 minutes.
The length of baseball games is more or less the same across different tournaments. The reason for this is the fixed amount of innings, which is 9.
What Is an Inning?
An inning is the basic unit of play in baseball, consisting of two halves—the top and the bottom. These are sometimes referred to as the ‘first half’ and ‘second half’ of ‘x inning.’
In the first half-inning, one team will play the bat, while the other team will play the field. At the end of each half, they will switch roles. This switching continues until the 9th inning, with each team getting their 9th turn at the bat and the field.
Teams can only score while batting. They cannot score while fielding but can speed up the inning by getting the batting team three outs.
How Long Does an Inning Take?
Unlike other sports, there are no set clocks for each inning. The length of the inning depends on the play of the batting or fielding team. If the batting team can avoid a third strike out, in theory, they can play to infinity.
But on average, an inning should take 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for each half. This is just the average.
Some innings may take just 3 minutes, for instance. It depends on how fast they get struck out.
If the pitcher is having a great game, that would shorten the inning’s duration by a lot. An even faster way of shortening the inning is if the pitcher gets a perfect game.
What Is a Perfect Game Exactly?
A perfect game happens when none of the opposing teams reaches first base. This means no-hit, walks, hit batsmen, uncaught 3rd strike, interference, and fielding errors.
But I doubt we’d ever see one any time soon.
To give you an idea of how rare this feat is, out of 218,400 games played in MLB, only 23 official perfect games have been recorded. That’s a minuscule 0.01053%.
To catch a perfect game, you will need to watch at least 2 MLB seasons worth of games. That’s approximately 10,000 games.
As for perfect games in college baseball, they don’t have an official record of the total games, but they’ve recorded 30 perfect games.
Other Factors Affecting Baseball Game Duration
The more base runners the batting team has, the more time between pitches since the bases are now in play.
If the game is tied after 9 innings, extra innings will be played until one is leading at the end of a full inning. This would extend the game for at least an inning until one team is leading.
The record for the most number of innings in MLB is a whopping 26 innings.
As for college baseball, the record stands at 25 innings. The game lasted 7 hours and 3 minutes, which is a full hour and shorter than the longest MLB game, which stands at 8 hours and 25 minutes.
Another thing that may shorten a game is bad weather. Since baseball is played outdoors, the weather has a huge effect on the field.
How Different Is College Baseball to Other Leagues Like MLB?
As for the rules and basics of the game, they are practically the same.
However, there is a stark difference in how the game is played between the two because of slight equipment differences. One of the biggest differences is the bat. Aluminum bats are allowed in college baseball. Aluminum bats typically hit the ball faster.
Another difference is the number of games per season. College baseball has 56 games a year compared to MLB’s 162.
Also, college players do not get paid. Most of them play in hopes of getting drafted into the MLB, getting a scholarship, or just for the love of the game.